Good Vibrations: Music in Brewing

Beer With Me

I own Genus Brewing, a brewery and brewing supply store in Spokane Valley, which means I get to be a geek about beer for a living. I’ve been in the industry for twelve years and talking with home and professional brewers daily puts me in a unique position to translate and transmit the happenings in the beer world.

Beer with me, while I talk about beer with a focus on what you can find locally, but also topical beer news and technical beer knowledge. I hope to indulge the interests of anyone with a thirst for premium malt beverages.

pretzel with cheese
Beer and pretzels with cheese – an excellent combo!

Beer Spotlight

West Coast IPA: The Beer that sparked a Revolution

IPA has boomed into a near craft-beer-synonym… so much so that the international powers that categorize beer have made it into its own word (that’s right, in the beer world it no longer stands for India Pale Ale).

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The style that many still picture when they hear IPA is the OG that many credit for the Craft Beer Explosion across the globe–the West Coast IPA. Order one of these and you can expect pungent resinous aromas telling of pine, citrus, and what I affectionately refer to as “dankness”.

west coast ipa

Taste-wise you’re looking at a medium-dry body without notable distracting malt character. The hops are the star and can push forward light tropical fruit and wood notes to complement the aggressive pine, resin, and citrus flavors that most IPAs are noted to have.

West Coast IPAs are aggressively bitter relative to their malt sweetness, and are the reason many beer lovers confuse bitterness, hoppiness, and IBUS. As an aside, I personally believe IBUs (international bittering units) to be a terrible judge of a beer’s qualities.

Looking for a great West Coast IPA to acclimate your palette to the style? Torpedo Extra IPA is found on most store shelves and is a go-to boat beer that helped pioneer the style!

Happening Around Spokane

Iron Goat Brewing Company Ten Year Anniversary – June 4

Iron Goat Brewing company at 1302 W. 2nd Ave. in Downtown Spokane will be celebrating ten years in the Spokane beer Scene this June 4th in signature Iron Goat Style. Along with their eclectic beer and signature food selection they will be featuring live music on their patio starting at 3 p.m. from a variety of artists. Be sure to get there early, as the artists will rotate throughout the day!

Quadruple Smoked Beer Release – No Drought Brewing

Smoked beers may not get the acclaim that IPAs and classic styles enjoy, but they span a broad range, and done correctly serve to enhance beers rather than be the sole focus. If you’re curious to dive into the world of smoked beers then be sure to take a peek at the four releases No Drought Brewing will launch on June 18th. Aside from a classic Rauschbier (the OG smoked style), No Drought will be unveiling a more experimental Smoked Dunkel, a Leichtenheiner, and a Gratzer style beer. Everything from bold and sweet to light and tart, this event made for anyone looking to embolden their palate for beer exploring new styles!

Spokane Symphony Summer Solstice Event – June 21 

Practice alliteration whilst being serenaded by the Spokane Symphony at Brick West Brewing on June 21. Sip sweet suds at the family friendly West End Plaza while enjoying a range of music from the symphony. 

 Vibe Check

Iron Goat

Iron Goat Brewing is the first place that comes to mind in the beer world when live music is on the brain. Seated on the west end of downtown Spokane, Iron Goat has a wide open floor concept with four community tables in the center, surrounded by several more intimate tables and booths on three sides, and a large bar-top and order counter on the fourth.

iron goat

For indoor concerts, the large open floor space allows room for a band to set up on the east wall of the taproom, but in the summer Iron Goat plans to run a weekly live music series on their patio, which lives past the kitchen through the west hall of the taproom. The patio area is partially covered and occupies a long alley-esque space with mural paintings on the brick siding.

For being in the heart of downtown, the patio feels nicely secluded for a relaxing beer or exciting concert experience! The food menu at Iron Goat is rustic yet refined, offering a combination of handhelds, and pizza with scratch-made dough. Follow their Facebook for more information on upcoming events including their patio concert series.

Some Technical Stuff

Vibrations – age with music

Barrel Aging, while almost a necessity in the wine and spirits world, has a unique place when conditioning craft beer. Used barrels can impart characteristics from the barrel’s previous host, build mild barrel character and oxidation, and hold microbial life. New charred oak can impart big barrel character, to include vanillans, tannins, and subtler woody flavors.

Essentially, barrels make cool flavors, but were you aware that some companies are making those flavors happen faster using music?

A handful of companies across the country have started using loud music with heavy bass to age beer (and wine, and spirits) even faster. How does this work? Well the vibrations from the music actually expand and contract the wood of the barrels quickly so the beer along the surface enters and leaves its pores.

Think of the wood like a sponge under water, and the music like your hand squeezing and relaxing  the sponge. As a result, the beer penetrates deeper into the wood for a more prominent oak character, as well as a stronger flavor from the previous barrel occupant (in the case of used barrels). Moreover, the deeper integration of the wood to the beer actually serves to preserve the beer for longer, meaning even though the “aging” will happen faster, the beer can live longer. 

[So next time you’re using alcohol and have wood… something about playing Marvin Gaye…]

Peter McArthur

An industry professional of twelve years, Peter McArthur owns Genus Brewing, a brewery and brewing supply store in the Spokane Valley. Talking with home and professional brewers daily puts him in a unique position to translate and transmit the happenings in the beer world, a reason why Genus Brewing started a YouTube channel about four years ago, which now holds weekly livestreams and produces videos teaching about beer and the beer-making process.

read all of peter’s articles here.

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